Anuja Rajendra came in third place last summer in the Democratic primary for a state senate seat. Just a few months later, she was facing criminal charges in Washtenaw County, and potentially up to 90 days in jail, for stating in a campaign mailer, “As a mom of four and as your State Senator, I want my kids and all kids in Michigan to have the same opportunity for quality education and success.”
Ms. Rajendra was charged under a state law that makes it a crime to “give the impression that a candidate for public office is the incumbent” when he or she is not. The ACLU of Michigan represented Ms. Rajendra, arguing that any law making political speech a crime is a blatant violation of the First Amendment, and that charging Ms. Rajendra under these circumstances was an outrageous abuse of prosecutorial discretion.
In January 2019 Judge Elizabeth Hines granted our motion to dismiss, ruling that the statute is unconstitutional on its face. When Judge Hines announced her ruling from the bench, the entire courtroom burst into applause.
(People v. Rajendra; ACLU Attorneys Michael J. Steinberg and Dan Korobkin; Cooperating Attorneys John Shea, David Blanchard, and Frances Hollander.)